We find, more often than not, that the people who develop business websites and web applications do not understand the basic principals of search engine optimization. Even if they do understand, they may not care, or may not find it to be an important enough part of the project, deciding to just worry about it later. It is much easier to consider these tactics during the process of the project rather then trying to modify it after the fact. For all the tech’s out there, I’d like to offer my 3 golden rules of SEO:

  1. Do right to Google, and Google will do right to you.
  2. If you try to trick the search engines, it may work today. But eventually, you will be penalized.
  3. You don’t have to do everything right. Just do more right than your competition.

What do these golden rules actually mean?

Do right to Google, and Google will do right to you.

“Do right to Google” means several things. It means to follow their best practices. Think about what Google’s goal is – they want to provide their users with an efficient way to find the information they are looking for. In order to do that, they have created an algorithm to rank sites in order of which they feel is the most likely internet result to answer the user has queried. Most of the scoring techniques are secret, but the goal is not. So think about it this way – anything we can do during site development to help Google do their job, is extra points for the site. See the Google Webmaster Tools site for more information.

If you try to trick the search engines, it may work today. But eventually, you will be penalized.

Even though rule number two simply states the opposite as number one, it still is important in its’ own right. If we are doing everything right to Google, we shouldn’t be doing anything wrong, right? Sometimes SEOs will employ methods to optimize their site to unnaturally inflate their rankings. Using these techniques are considered “Black Hat” or “Grey Hat.” The entire premise of rule no. 2 is that we don’t want to do anything that appears like we are trying to trick the search engines. If so, you may not get caught today or tomorrow. But one day, maybe your site will have points taken away… therefore dropping your ranking.

You don’t have to do everything right. Just do everything more right than your competition.

Last but not least, you don’t have to do everything right. Just make sure you’re doing more things right than your competition. It makes sense… perfect sense. Just like winning a race, a football game or the even the World Series. In all of those examples, the winners can still make all sorts of mistakes, and still end up winning. They just need to do better then the competition. So fear not, developers of the world. You don’t have to become an expert overnight. Just take these three solid rules into account while working on your next project.